clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can Jayson Werth still play every day in the Washington Nationals' outfield?

Jayson Werth talked earlier this winter about the frustration of injuring his left wrist again last season and what he expects from new Washington Nationals' manager Dusty Baker in 2016. Can Werth play left on an everyday basis? He thinks he can...

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

What's the lasting image for you from Jayson Werth's 2015 campaign? Is it him crumpled on the ground in pain after San Diego Padres' starter Odrisamer Despaigne hit him with a fastball that fractured several bones in his wrist? Or maybe the picture Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga painted of an infuriated Werth ripping down Matt Williams' posted lineup that didn't include his name on it and storming into the manager's office to have a "talk"?

"I've always thought and been told that players reflect their manager," Werth said. "So we'll see what type of attitude and persona [Dusty Baker] brings." -Jayson Werth on how a manager can affect a clubhouse

On the Saturday in August Svrluga described, Werth wasn't happy that he, like others before him, hadn't been informed that he would be getting a day off before he arrived at the park and according to the WaPost report, he let the now-former Nats' skipper know:

"What might have been a minor blip in a successful season became a boiling point. Incensed, Werth ripped the lineup card off the wall, bellowing that it was going to change. Then, according to several people who were present, he confronted Williams — not just about whether he would play that day but about what most of the clubhouse considered to be a chronic lack of communication with his players. Among the most jarring barbs, from Werth to Williams: 'When exactly do you think you lost this team?'"

Fair or not, that August scene became emblematic of the reported dysfunction in the Nationals' clubhouse.

Williams was relieved of his duties on the Nationals' bench once the disappointing season ended, a year after he won the NL Manager of the Year Award.

Werth, in the fifth year of the 7-year/$126M contract he signed with the Nationals in 2010, struggled to get right at the plate after the wrist injury, putting up a .221/.302/.384 line, with 16 doubles and 12 home runs in 88 games and 378 plate appearances, over which he was worth -0.3 fWAR, down from .292/.394/.455, 37 doubles and 16 home runs in a 5.0 fWAR season in 147 games and 629 PAs in 2014 and a .318/.398/.532 line, 24 doubles and 25 HRs in 129 games and 532 PAs in a 4.7 fWAR campaign in 2013.

Werth started the 2015 season recovering from shoulder surgery, then injured the wrist. He admitted earlier this winter that it was a frustrating campaign, physically.

"[Injuries] probably had a lot to do with it," he said. "I felt like I was kind of unlucky too. And that's just kind of how our season went. It was just one of those years. This year I'll have a full winter of training and get back to the shape that I'm accustomed to coming into the season in. Started the season kind of still rehabbing my shoulder and about the time I started getting going, I broke my wrist. And sometimes, in the past, wrist injuries, they've taken -- it takes time. Just because you're healthy doesn't mean you're 100%. But I think all that's behind me. I've got a full winter to get strong and get in all the workouts that I usually get in, so I plan on coming in the best shape I've ever been in and having a big year."

"At some point it's not going to be the case. It's just the reality of it. Until I feel like I can't play every day, I have no other reason to think I can't go out there and do what I've always done." -Jayson Werth on whether or not he can still be an everyday player

Werth said he was excited about getting to work with new manager Dusty Baker.

"Always enjoyed playing against him," the 36-year-old outfielder said. "He was a worthy adversary, I guess you could say. To have him on our side now is going to be a lot of fun. He's bringing in Davey Lopes as well. So we get to have Davey again. Looking forward to this season for sure."

Werth and Lopes have history from the time the two spent in Philadelphia, and the Nationals' left fielder said he'll add a lot to the coaching staff in D.C.

"He, obviously, played a long time, had a great career, stole a lot of bases, was very successful as a player and a base stealer, but he's been as successful as a coach. He's one of those guys you like to have around. He's a teacher, he's a student, he's a really good first base coach."

As for what Baker will bring to the Nationals' bench? Werth said in December he'd only heard good things about the new manager.

"Nothing bad, that's for sure," he told reporters. "Everybody that I know that's played for him loved him. I've got some really close friends that played for him that had a lot of great things to say. He kind of speaks for himself. When you watch him in the past and his track record for handling teams and superstar players, and the teams that he's had, it speaks for itself. So I think he's coming to our team at the right time and I think everybody is excited. We're looking forward to it."

How much of a difference can a manager actually make in the clubhouse?

"I've always thought and been told that players reflect their manager," Werth said. "So we'll see what type of attitude and persona he brings. I've had a couple conversations with him in the past, I don't know him very well, so looking forward to getting to know him and getting a feel for how he does things on a day-to-day basis.

"Everybody is different. Everybody that I've played for has been different, so in that respect, I think that will take time and everybody will get to know each other and we'll feel it out in Spring Training and we'll get it rolling.

"I think it's a positive, he's bringing a lot to the table. He's been a player, he's been a manager and I think he's got a lot to offer the team."

What does Werth have left to offer? Is he still capable of putting up the numbers he did in 2013-14? Can he play left on an everyday basis?

"At some point it's not going to be the case," he acknowledged. "It's just the reality of it. Until I feel like I can't play every day, I have no other reason to think I can't go out there and do what I've always done.

"So I feel good, I feel healthy. The wrist thing is tricky. I've had three surgery and four fractures. It's a real thing.

"You can't outrun Father Time. I know I'm at the end of my career, more so than the beginning, so I know at some point, but I don't feel like I'm slowing down any time soon."